Preaching the Whole Counsel of God

[display_podcast]I came upon this sermon of Spurgeon’s during my time in theological college, and it has stuck with me ever since. It is vintage Spurgeon, but the truths ring as clear today as they did in 1859. Here’s an extract, but the whole sermon is well worth reading, if simply to understand Spurgeon’s passion for souls and God’s glory:

[Paul] had preached ALL the counsel of God. By which I think we are to understand that he had given to his people the entire gospel. He had not dwelt upon some one doctrine of it, to the exclusion of the rest; but it had been his honest endeavour to bring out every truth according to the analogy of faith. He had not magnified one doctrine into a mountain, and then diminished another into a molehill; but he had endeavoured to present all blended together, like the colours in the rainbow, as one harmonious and glorious whole… He had, doubtless, sins to confess in private, and faults to bemoan God. He had, doubtless, sometimes failed to put a truth as clearly as he could have wished, when preaching the Word; he had not always been earnest as he could desire; but at least he could claim this, that he had not wilfully kept back a single part of the truth as it is in Jesus…

There is a tendency in this age to throw doctrinal truth into the shade. Too many preachers are offended with that stern truth which the Covenanters held, and to which the Puritans testified in the midst of a licentious age. We are told that the times have changed: that we are to modify these old (so-called) Calvinistic doctrines, and bring them down to the tone of the times; that, in fact, they need dilution… Any man who doth this, so far as my judgement goes, does not declare the whole counsel of God. The faithful minister must be plain, simple, pointed, with regard to these doctrines…

To declare the whole counsel of God—to gather up ten thousand things into one—I think it is needful that when a minister gets his text, he should say what that text means honestly and uprightly. Too many preachers get a text and kill it. They wring its neck, then stuff it with some empty notions and present it upon the table for an unthinking people to feed upon. That man does not preach the whole counsel of God who does not let God’s Word speak for itself in its own pure, simple language…

The honest minister does not condemn sin in the mass; he singles out separate sins in his hearers, and without drawing the bow at a venture he puts an arrow on the string and the Holy Spirit sends it right home to the individuals conscience. He who is true to his God does not look to his congregation as a great mass, but as separate individuals, and he endeavours to adapt his discourse to men’s conscience, so that they will perceive he speaks of them…

The apostle Paul knew how to dare public opinion, and on one hand to preach the duty of man, and on the other the sovereignty of God… [But if you] become such a Calvinist that you shut your eyes to one half the Bible, and cannot see the responsibility of the sinner, [then] men will clap their hands, and cry Hallelujah! and on the backs of many you shall be hoisted to a throne, and become a very prince in their Israel. On the other hand, begin to preach mere morality, practice without doctrine, and you shall be elevated on other men’s shoulders; you shall, if I may use such a figure, ride upon these asses into Jerusalem; and you shall hear them cry, Hosanna! and see them wave their palm branches before you. But once preach the whole counsel of God, and you shall have both parties down upon you; one crying, “The man is too high,” the other saying, “No, he is too low;” the one will say, “He’s a rank Arminian,” the other, “He’s a vile hyper- Calvinist.”… How many there are kept in bondage through neglect of gospel invitations. They are longing to be saved. They go up to the house of God, crying to be saved; and there is nothing but predestination for them. On the other hand, what multitudes are kept in darkness through practical preaching. It is do! do! do! and nothing but do! and the poor souls come away and say: “Of what use is that to me? I can do nothing. Oh, that I had a way shown to me available for salvation.”

Of the apostle Paul we think it may be truly said, that no sinner missed a comfort from his keeping back Christ’s cross; that no saint was bewildered in spirit from his denying the bread of heaven and withholding precious truth; that no practical Christian became so practical as to become legal, and no doctrinal Christian became so doctrinal as to become unpractical.


  1. Mark,
    Thanks so very much for this, I love Spurgeon, and your recording is really good.

  2. Thank you for transcribing this! This is an excellent excerpt. It was just what I needed to hear today!

  3. Jeremiah Owens says

    How great it is to preach the whole word. We need this in our nation again.